Shinola Celebrates American Craftmanship

September 11, 2013 | by Roberta Naas, | Watches

shinola watch
The Gomelsky watch ($545) from Shinola is made in Detroit with a quartz movement created from Ronda Swiss parts.

Two years ago, a new company was formed in Detroit with the goal to create American-made watches, bicycle frames, and leather goods, among other products. To launch the business, a storied American brand name was adopted: Shinola. The original company, Shinola-Bixby, was founded as a small-scale shoeshine manufacturer in 1907, and the brand’s business boomed during World Wars I and II, when shining boots was mandatory.

In 2011 the Shinola brand was reimagined, with the concept of making quality timepieces here in the States. Thus began the search for a top Swiss watchmaker to partner with for parts and for the backing to build a state-of-the-art watchmaking factory in Detroit. The watch brand Ronda rose to the occasion. Today, Shinola has partnered with Ronda and has just rolled out its first comprehensive watch line. The company partnered with the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and built a 30,000-square-foot factory on the Ford General Motors campus. The brand then recruited Detroit locals and trained them in the art of quartz movement and watch assembly, all of which takes place at Shinola’s Motor City headquarters.

The first hand-assembled quartz movement from Shinola has been named the Argonite 1069, after the Argonaut building in which the brand is housed. Every Shinola watch will feature the Argonite 1069 quartz movement, the Shinola lightning bolt logo, and the words "Built in Detroit" engraved on the caseback. The leather and steel straps are also made in America, courtesy of Horween Leather in Chicago.

The collection launches with four distinct lines. Runwell, the first, is created in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces in a 47mm size and 1,500 pieces in a 40mm size. Other designs include Birdy, a round women’s watch with coin edging and double-wrap leather straps; Gomelsky, a cushion-shaped watch; and Brakeman, a sportier timepiece. The watches retail for $475 to $850 and are being launched this month at Steven Alan and at Barneys New York, with Barneys having an exclusive on the newest Runwell style. 

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